2017 in Books

Why hello there, everyone!  Long time, no see!  I hope to post a general life update soon (yes, I survived my first semester of grad school), but first, BOOKS!

I feel like 2017 is going to go down as a one of the most significant years in my reading life.  Looking back, I not only read more books than ever before, but I discovered countless new writers who I now cannot imagine my life without.

This year, I read 211 books.  Holy cats, that’s a lot!  This includes audiobooks and stand-alone graphic novels.  I did not include comic volumes or things I read twice in one year.  This number feels like a HUGE accomplishment.  It smashes last year’s record by 64 books!

The theme this year was all about YA.  I’ve always enjoyed the genre, but this year stepped it up several notches.  Being a librarian, I work to stay on top of new releases and up-and-coming titles so I can successfully help my patrons find things to read.  A perk (and curse) of this is that I’m painfully aware of what’s being published, when it’s coming out, and how to get my hands on it for free.

And, oh, the authors I’ve discovered this year.  It was a fantastic year for discovering YA fantasy writers.  Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, Laini Taylor, where have you been all my life?!  I cannot imagine my life without the Court of Thorns and Roses Series or Six of Crows duology.  (I read A Court of Mist and Fury five times and have zero regrets.) I was charmed by Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer and swept away by Marie Lu’s Warcross.  I reread Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and fell in love with them all over again. There were some excellent Asian-inspired fantasies released this year; I really enjoyed Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh.  I’m currently in the midst of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, which I am loving so far.

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 2

And… here’s part two of my recent reads list!  As always, let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Oh, what an absolute pleasure to be immersed in a John Green novel!  I’ve been a fan of his work for nearly ten years now and have loved watching his stories progress.  His writing, as always, is rich and deep and leaves me longing for more.  A lot of people criticize Green for creating overly pretentious and deep-thinking protagonists and Turtles definitely falls in line.  But I find it endearing.  This book explores sixteen year old Asa’s experience with mental illness.  The story takes you deep into her mind and I came out with better understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I feel like this is one of those books that will become richer each time I read it.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This book was sooooo hyped on bookstagram.  It had everything going for it: gorgeous cover, ACOTAR-like plot… but I was definitely underwhelmed.  The writing was good, but the story just didn’t suck me in.  The season-themed courts seemed used and the characters did nothing for me.  If there was chemistry, I missed it.  And, good grief, don’t get me started on insta-love.  How come supposedly smart, practical leading ladies constantly lose their minds the second an attractive man (or fairy) walks into their life?  I did love the cultural/biological differences between the fairies and humans.  Each longs for what the other has, in their own way.  Fairies long for the ability to create and humans long for eternal youth and beauty.  I did like that this book conveys that these human longings result in nothing but emptiness.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

This was such a delightful comfort read.  It’s my second book by Lord and I’ve been so impressed with her writing.  It’s the story of sixteen-year-old Paige, who is best known at school as the girl whose boyfriend tragically drowned a year before. It’s not a story of grief, rather a story of figuring out life after grief.  How to put yourself out there and begin anew.  Surrounded by her best friends, Paige goes through her junior year of high school.  Along the way, she meets Max, the nerdy Quiz Bowl captain with whom she becomes close.  I wish I had been able to read this book at the age of sixteen because Max is everything my high school self wanted in a boyfriend.  Sometimes, it’s a treat to lose yourself in a low-key high school novel, and Lord did not disappoint.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Kaur is the darling of Instagram and… I don’t know.  I’m so torn when it comes to her poetry.  On the one hand, I adore the content.  It’s raw, realistic, and I appreciate the honesty.  I like the way the poems look on the page and love the art that accompanies them.  This collection addresses topics like heartbreak, immigration, and self love… all great subjects!  On the other hand, I don’t think the poems are actually well written.  They’re just thoughts on the page, spaced and formatted to look like poems.  There’s little rhythm, rhyme, or structure to them.  Call me a snob, but I’ve studied and read plenty of poetry.  Technical structures add so much depth and richness.  They’re challenging to implement, but almost always pay off.  I want to like Kaur’s work… but am always left wanting more.


For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 1

Hello, there!  I’m back and ready to share this past month’s batch of reads.  I’m running a bit behind, so this will come in two parts.  Keep a lookout for the next installment sometime next week!  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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What I’m Reading: YA Fall Releases

It’s Thursday night and I’ve managed to talk myself down from the “I should be studying” ledge.  So, since I’ve decided that grad school is no excuse to not read for fun, why not talk about all the books I’ve been cramming in my spare time?  Thanks to my library, I’ve been on the top of the list for many of this fall’s hottest YA releases.

My mini reviews are spoiler-free, so no worries if you haven’t read them.

Here’s my lineup:

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What I’m Reading 9/14/17

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about all the things I’ve been reading.  Some of these, I finished almost a month ago!  Holy cats, does time fly!  I’m glad I take notes on each book I finish, otherwise I wouldn’t remember what I thought about them.

Here are the books I’ll be discussing today:

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Let me know what you’ve read lately in the comments!

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In Appreciation of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna Books

As a lifelong reader, there are many books I read when I was young that have shaped me into the person I am today.  Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables (which I didn’t actually read until high school… but it still shaped me), the list could go on.  I remember loving Julie Andrews’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and tearing through every Boxcar Children book I could get my hands on.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve returned to several of these books and have found them disappointing.  Whatever spark they ignited in me no longer connects with the person I am today.  They lose their savor and I can no longer remember why I returned to it again and again.

But that’s not always the case.  There are some books that, when I enter in with my grownup perspective, only get better–books that I can go years without and, upon opening the first page, feel the magic rise up in me once more.

Tamora Pierce is one of those writers for me.

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What I’m Reading 8/21/17

When preparing this post, I realized that I had written way too much content.  Since I’ve begun writing reactions/reviews/summaries in a notebook immediately after finishing a book, I’ve noticed that my comments have gotten a longer.  So I decided to do some shifting around, giving some of the books where I had more thoughts posts of their own.

Here, you can find my thoughts about several of my recent reads.  Keep an eye out over the next week for others–I’ve got a writeup for a fantasy novel primed and ready to go and, as soon as I finish Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab, I’ll give the Monsters of Verity duology their own post.

Here’s what I’m discussing this week:

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What I’m Reading 8/7/17

Since I last did one of these, I’ve started writing short, one paragraph reactions in a notebook every time I finish a book.  I do so much reading that stories often blend together and, when I come to do these kind of posts, I forget details.  I’m finding that I really enjoy processing books in this way–it helps me express my opinions and give the experience closure.  In addition, I’m also adding star ratings, just for fun.

I hope you enjoy my list of recent reads!  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  What have you been reading lately?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

5/5 stars

When I reached the end of this book, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  I rarely give books five-star ratings, but this series was absolute perfection.  All six main characters are distinct, fully, fleshed out, and deeply relatable.  They feel like real people–deeply flawed and broken and beautiful–and I love them all so, so much.  I can’t help being in awe of Bardugo’s planning skills–there are so many character arcs, schemes, plots, and back-stabbing… how does she juggle it all?  And given how complex it all is, how the heck does she manage to pull it off?!  This book sealed the deal: Bardugo is a top-notch writer and I will gladly read anything she publishes.


Geekerella by Ashley Poston

4/5 stars

This YA book has been on my radar for months and I finally got my hands on a copy.  It combines two of my deep loves: fairytale retellings and fandom.  I found the story delightful and endearing–the plot familiar, but a comforting kind of familiar.  More than anything, I was reminded of the movie “A Cinderella Story” with Hillary Duff–only with more cosplay and a pumpkin-themed vegan food truck.  It was a clever, fresh retelling of one of my favorite fairytales.  And, oh, how I wish that Starfield was a real show–it sounds like something I would love to watch.


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

4.5/5 stars

This was easily one of the best YA contemporaries I’ve read in a long while.  Lately, I’ve found it harder and harder to relate to that corner of the genre.  This book, though, hit home in so many ways.  It’s about a Christian girl who, after discovering that her mom’s cancer has returned, spends her summer as a counselor at a camp for troubled youth.  There, she wrestles with her faith and learns about life, love, and friendship.  The book is about growing up, discovering yourself, and allowing your worldview to grow and change.  Although our circumstances are different, I deeply related with Lucy.  I spent several summers camp counseling, so the exhausting pace of her days was familiar.  What I love about this book is that, while Lucy questions and struggles with her faith, she doesn’t walk away from it.  It’s really hard to write about faith journeys in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy and Lord handles Lucy’s journey so, so well.  Her faith shifts into something new, but it doesn’t go away.  The book also features a rich array of diverse characters and I adored the friendships Lucy forms.  They reminded me of the friendships I forged in my own camp years.  This is a book that doesn’t shy away from life’s biggest questions–it leans into hard questions, tough situations, and embraces the challenges of life.  I’m thankful for books like these–books that act as mirrors to our own experiences.


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Weekend Coffee Share 7/30/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be at my local coffee shop once more.  It’s a full house for a Sunday and I had to take a table close to the counter, which is noisier than where I usually sit.  I have a clear sight of the door and keep getting distracted by all the people coming in.

If I were to pick a word to describe this week, it would be quiet.  My parents have been on vacation for the past week and I’ve had the house to myself.  The solitude has been a much-needed break.  I’ve been able to dive into my head in a way I haven’t in a long time.  I’ve been writing again in a way that feels fresh and natural.  And I’ve been reading!  Between audiobooks from my commute and normal reading, I’ve finished about five books over the past seven days.  Whew!

Not that I’ve been home much… with work and doing things with friends, I’ve kept pretty busy.

I had an enjoyable dinner with an old friend, who was visiting from the East Coast (where she’s about to start her PhD program).  Yesterday afternoon, a college friend came to visit me.  I’ve been trying to get her up here for years and was so glad it finally happened!  We had quite the adventure!  I showed her around our apple orchard and took her to the coffee shop (where I now sit).  Then, we wandered around this really cool sculpture garden and hung out at my local State Park.  The evening wrapped up at the vintage Drive In restaurant, with rootbeer floats and burgers–the perfect summer meal.

Over the next couple of days, my family will slowly fill the house again.  My parents return from their week by the lake in the north woods this evening.  Tomorrow, my younger brother comes home from his summer internship in North Carolina.  It’ll be weird having everyone around again, but a nice kind of weird.  Too much time alone makes me go crazy.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the quiet while it lasts.  I have absolutely no plans for today and tomorrow and I intend to take advantage of it.  I’m hoping for long hours reading on a blanket in my back yard and at least one big hike in my local state park.

But enough about me!  What have you been up to this week?  What would you share over coffee?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster. Be sure to check out the weekly Link Up to see what everyone has been up to.

What I’ve Been Reading 7/25/17

It’s time for another exploration of my recent reads.  I’ve been pretty spoiled by some of the books on this list–I rarely give out five star ratings on Goodreads, but there are some titles worthy of that honor in here.

Enjoy–and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading lately in the comments!


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book has been on my radar for a LONG time–it was just a matter of getting to it.  Well, I’m currently listening to it on audiobook and HOLY CRAP, HOW HAVE I BEEN MISSING OUT ON THIS?  The subject matter isn’t one that immediately sucks me in (which is why it has taken so long to pick up), but dang.  Once I got past the first few chapters, I was absolutely hooked.  What strikes me about this book is the excellent characterization.  It features a variety of characters and switches points of view constantly, but each voice is distinct.  Each character is fully-realized, which makes them feel so real.  Bardugo slowly unveils their stories, giving us hints and glimpses at their pasts and their ambitions with each page.  It makes driving to work an absolute treat!  I’m already dreading reaching the end of the audiobook, but I know I’ll be moving on to Crooked Kingdom straight away.

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

Gosh, WHY do I keep reading Dickerson’s books?  I’ve read almost everything she’s published and, even though I don’t love her stories, they’re enjoyable.  I love fairytale retellings, and Dickerson’s are subtle.  After the mess that was this one, I think I might throw in the towel.  Her stories are all formulaic, but the formula is definitely wearing thin.  Dickerson’s protagonists are always beautiful, kind, compassionate, selfish, pious, and BORING.  Her side characters have zero depth.  It’s like watching paper dolls act on a puppet show stage, then fall into a puddle and crumble apart.  I’m also almost insulted by how heavy-handed Dickerson is with her representation of Christianity.  Female leads are always quoting scripture, praying, and longing to someday be rich enough to own a Bible translated into German.  It’s as if Dickerson expects that, by making her women models of Christian femininity, that makes them good characters.  Um, no.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

I talked about Schwab’s first book in this series, A Darker Shade of Magic, a month ago.  While I really enjoyed that book, I fell head-over-heels in love with this one.  I think this might be because I listened to it on audiobook, which meant that my reading was slower and more deliberate.  Schwab is excellent at world building–in the first book, she establishes the different Londons.  In this book, Schwab takes a new turn.  She expands the world of Red London through a magical tournament, which reminded me a lot of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter.  The tournament introduces the different empires and peoples, as well as expands on how magic functions and how each culture relates differently to it.  Schwab also continued to establish her characters, who have nestled their way deep into my heart.  Delilah Bard (who I found likable, but flighty and kind of annoying in the first book) is now making her way to my all-time favorite characters list.  I’m eagerly waiting for my hold on the third book on audio to come through at the library so I can continue.

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